Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why Small Business Owners Are Economic Heroes, Not Villains

What is the “American Dream?” What is your personal definition for your achievement of the American Dream? Is it completing college, buying a home, paying bills easily, having a family, or a combination of these?

For many Americans it is starting their own company, owning their own business, and achieving prosperity by growing a successful business. America has always been known as an entrepreneurial culture where people can start with an idea and work hard and risk their own money to see their idea to a successful fruition.

With the 2008 financial crisis, resulting in a real estate sector meltdown and taxpayer funded bailouts of large banks and Wall Street firms, many Americans are left wondering about the virtue of capitalism. Many are increasingly angry with the Great Recession destroying the financial stability of the American middle class and poor while large corporate and political culprits seem ultimately unscathed.

Whether it is coming from the Tea Party or the Occupy Wall Street protests, many Americans are angry with corrupt politicians, lobbyist influence, politically connected favoritism, government bailouts, record foreclosures, wage stagnation, and high unemployment.

As an alarming result, we are in danger of painting all capitalist business with the wide brush of what are in reality the ills of crony capitalism. We are in danger of hating our capitalistic system in general due to those that have turned it into anything but a free market system with corporations that are reliant on government favors and politicians that are addicted to corporate money.

Privatizing ill gained profits and socializing reckless losses for corporations, and inciting class warfare as a blame distraction for politicians, has put us on the wrong path of many demonizing all capitalism and seeing all business as the villain.

This could not be further from the truth in economic reality. Small business owners are economic heroes, not villains. Small business and self-employment continues to fuel the growth of the U.S. economy. It is the private sector that creates wealth and prosperity for a nation, not the public sector or government.

The Huffington Post, not exactly a right-wing media outlet, recently ran an interesting business article titled “Small Business and the Simple Math of Job Creation.”

The article contained, “If one out of every two small businesses (50%) hired just ONE person, we would have zero unemployment.” It further noted, “If each of the 6 million small businesses that have employees hired just two people, we would only have 2 million people unemployed in the US (1.3% unemployment).”

Successful small businesses are a positive multiplier effect on communities as explained well in a recent Business News Daily article titled, “Thriving Small Businesses Boost Real Estate Values, Research Shows.”

We all see small business owners every day in our daily routines. Do we realize they are economic heroes not villains, no matter the class warfare rhetoric that now defines “millionaires and billionaires” to blame and hold responsible as those with self-made, not government-given, income starting at $200.000 per year.

What motivates small business owners to keep going even in today’s harsh business economic and political climate?

Lisa Aldisert is president of Pharos Alliance Inc., a management consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, business development, and organizational/leadership development. Pharos provides management consulting for growing organizations with a specialty in small business.

Aldisert was the founding president of a business association for entrepreneurs. She is on the faculty of New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. She is the co-author of The Small Business Money Guide: How to Get It, Use It, Keep It and the author of Valuing People: How Human Capital Can Be Your Strongest Asset.

Lisa Aldisert shares her insights:

BKH: What are the main differences between Main Street and Wall Street?

LA: “Wall Street” tends to refer to large, global, (mostly) publicly traded financial institutions with a significant presence in New York City; while “Main Street” refers to small to mid-sized (mostly) privately-held businesses anywhere in the U.S. The main differences pertain to size, political and financial influence.

BKH: Are there any major similarities?

LA: The most important similarity is that large and small companies are in business to make a profit.

BKH: What are the leading personal attributes of small business owners?

LA: It’s hard to generalize; however, most are people who tend to “live and breathe” their businesses. Many are passionate, hard-working, dedicated professionals.

Successful small business owners are persistent, decisive, creative, and forward thinking. The successful owners also have amazing attitudes that reflect optimism, perseverance, and problem-solving savvy regardless of what’s happening in the economy, the market, or their communities.

BKH: What are their significant motivators?

LA: In today’s economic environment, some are motivated by survival, while others are motivated by making a lot of money to support a lifestyle.

Others are motivated by being able to help their customers, clients, or patients through the products and services that they offer. Some are motivated by creating solutions to everyday obstacles.

BKH: What are their leading worries in today's economic conditions?

LA: Several worries come to mind - in no particular order. First, cash flow can be challenging. Many businesses have receivables, money owed to them by their clients, which take longer to collect than in a more robust economy.

Second, availability of credit is a worry. Many journalists have written about this topic; however, it’s a bigger issue than the banks’ willingness to lend money to small businesses. Business owners often fund their companies’ cash shortfalls through credit cards, their personal savings, etc., so availability of credit spans their personal and business lives.

Third, hiring additional staff is a worry. Business owners want to have certainty that their companies will be able to generate consistently higher sales to cover the investment in new employees. Finally, the psychological uncertainty about the economy is infectious, so maintaining confidence in the face of uncertainty is a worry.

BKH: What are their standard sacrifices right now people may not realize?

LA: The main sacrifices relate to money and time. As noted, currently many small business owners need to fund cash shortfalls in their businesses through personal savings and credit. It is not unusual for them to forego their own salaries when necessary.

They sacrifice time, because many owners invest more time in their businesses when they function with leaner staffs.

BKH: What employee benefits do small business owners most desire to offer?

LA: I think this depends on the business. Most small business owners, however, want to be in a position to offer competitive benefit packages, including access to health care.

BKH: Are most small business owners millionaires and billionaires?

LA: No!

BKH: What is the level of community involvement you see most from small business owners?

LA: Many are involved in community activities where they offer their insights, connections, and expertise. As a result, they enhance their community standing and visibility.

Others are involved in activities that they are passionate about that have little to do with their businesses.

BKH: What are the key success elements for small business growth and hiring?

LA: Several elements are important. In spite of leaner times, it’s important to keep investing in marketing and business development. Businesses that turn off the marketing spigot, in order to save money, will pay the price later.

Business owners need to constantly be on the hunt for customers, clients, or patients. When hiring, it is important to match the appropriately qualified person for the available position.

I also believe that it is more important to hire someone with a great attitude and determination that can grow into a job, than to hire someone with all of the requisite skills who has a mediocre or lousy attitude.

BKH: What advice would most small business owners give politicians on job creation factors?

LA: Small business owners have different voices, so their advice will vary. I would advise national and local politicians to meet their small business constituents and understand their issues.

BKH: What do you wish more people realized about small business owners in general?

LA: You probably know more small business owners than you think. They are everywhere from your next-door neighbors to the people who own businesses that you walk by every day - your dry cleaner, your dentist, the coffee shop owner.

Small business owners support the communities that they live in; their children go to school with yours; they celebrate the same joys and milestones that everyone else does. And, at the end of their "every day", the buck stops with them.

BKH: Thank you Lisa. Contact Lisa through LinkedIn or Pharos Alliance, Inc.

The small business owner is speaking truth to the American people and politicians, for they are America. They want their business to grow and to have the need to hire people. They want to be job creators.

Small business owners are trying to succeed despite the unfair playing field that crony capitalism plants and the legislative and taxation roadblocks politicians erect. They are not looking for taxpayer bailouts, nor do they have multi-million dollar lobbyist in Washington on their behalf. They do not have politicians in their pockets nor sit on influential economic councils in Washington.

The average American has the right to be angry with economic conditions right now and what led to the Great Recession. Yet, Americans should not blame capitalism – they should hate what has been done to true free market capitalism. Americans should note, small business owners are economic heroes, not villains. Supporting small businesses supports communities and job creation.

Follow Brenda Krueger Huffman on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What College Students Should Know Now for Post Grad Job Search Later

Photo Credit - Flickr Common

Are you a college student wondering if you will be able to find a job once you graduate? Do you know what the important elements to successful job hunting are in today’s economy?

Are you kind of thinking about it but are admittedly clueless on what to do exactly? Are you choosing to not worry about it until you finish your degree?

You have probably heard that being able to network is the key to knowing a job is available and getting in the door for an interview. The good news is you probably already know how to network socially, considering like most college students; you probably have hundreds, if not thousands, of Facebook friends.

The bad news is you may not know how to transfer your social networking skills to professional networking skills. You may also need to develop your interpersonal skills now for the job you want later.

Do you know what personal branding is and why it will be vital in your job search? If using social media at the level the majority of college students are, do you realize you may already be developing your personal brand that will follow you into the workplace? That can be good news or bad news for the average college student.

Andrea Nierenberg, bestselling author and world-renowned business authority, is the Founder and President of The Nierenberg Consulting Group. Andrea has taught her business development courses to undergraduate and MBA students at the nation’s top educational institutions, including the University of Chicago, Washington University, and New York University.

Nierenberg notes, “The interpersonal skills college students build now will be their job search skills in reality. Many work places now have employees from four generations. The recent college graduates are so smart, especially with technology, but their interpersonal skills can be far less than employees of other generations. They must know how to network successfully in a professional sense and must comprehend how they conduct themselves establishes their brand.”

Public Relations industry leader Rebecca Crowley, CEO of innovative RTC Publicity, has a decade of experience in PR and has had an eclectic client base which allows her to pull from many different areas of her vast history in the industry.

She is currently conducting student workshops which provide hands on experience, tools, resources, and solid advice to help students stand apart from others as they embark on their post graduate job hunt. Her classes offer real-world instruction on how to use social marketing to your advantage, how to properly leverage your strengths, and how to get quality self-promotion copy in the hands of decision makers.

Rebecca Crowley shares her insights:

BKH: In simple terms, what is "branding?"

RC: Branding, essentially, is taking a name and translating its tangibles and intangibles into a message, online conversation, and image to its target audience. In job searches, the target market is potential employers.

BKH: How does corporate or product branding differ from personal branding?

RC: For companies, branding is taking a corporate name, product, or service and representing them in a message identity they want their consumer market to see them and with what emotions they want them to associate with them. They translate the desired image with a logo, written material, and advertising mediums, so consumers associate the brand name with their message.

A unified brand uses different treatments of its logo and translates that “feel” into every mode of communication that is put in front of the public - website, all social marketing sites, any written copy, press releases, email newsletters, direct mail pieces, presentation materials, and correspondence.

A successful brand grows organically over time and resonates with the consumer. It is important companies also do “re-brands” to change with the times. Do you remember when Boston Chicken re-branded to Boston Market? It was seamless and it worked.

However, sometimes change can be too much. Last year GAP tried to change their logo and invested a lot of money into it. Turns out the marketers did not have their pulse on what consumers wanted. It is a tried and true brand, and the traditional logo we associate with the GAP is here to stay. It is important for marketers to do their due diligence and know their audience to properly build, maintain and grow a brand.

The difference between company branding and personal branding is that with the personal brand there are not as many ways to “promote” that brand. People are not issuing press releases or newsletters. It is important cover letters, resumes, and all possible forms of communication (various social marketing sites and correspondence) are evoking the right emotions for the target audience – the potential employers.

With personal branding, mistakes will be more easily noticed. The audience is smaller, and there are fewer chances to get one’s “personal brand to resonate.” The personal brand must be tailored for each person, unlike a company that is generally marketing to a group of individuals.

BKH: How are they similar?

RC: The bottom line is both company branding and personal branding aim to get a person to remember you—to make you stand apart from the crowd. Both company branding and personal branding must highlight both tangible and intangible benefits.

BKH: Why is personal branding important?Link

RC: Personal branding is important in 2011 and beyond for many reasons. Foremost, we are in the middle of what seems to be an unending Great Recession. There are fewer jobs and more candidates than ever before. Standing apart from the crowd becomes of the utmost importance.

Also, we have more ways to communicate than ever before. The resume is just a formality, but it must show creativity and highlight skills. The cover letter is key. It shows you know your “audience” and have done your research.

Lastly, social media now allows more modes of communication - LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr among countless others. It is important to utilize social marketing even on the individual level, and show a unified brand.

An “online presence” is important and should not be taken for granted. Untag those photos of drinking in college and have an email address that reflects professionalism. Social media must be used to one’s benefit and not be a liability.

Everyone should know by now employers often look up a candidate online. And likewise, candidates should look up who is interviewing them. Everyone should know their audience, and there is a professional respect in approaching a company or coming to and interview prepared.

BKH: How has the need for personal branding changed in the last 5-10 years?

RC: Quite simply put, there are more modes of communication. We are in the Web 2.0 era and conceiving what Web 3.0 might be. It is important to use them for one’s benefit. Knowing the technology is important, and knowing how to use it to market yourself effectively is even more important.

I know many people looking for jobs that even have business cards made. It is necessary to make life easier for potential employers. Having well-presented information at their fingertips makes decisions easier and makes individuals stand out from the crowd. Be creative. Don’t think YouTube is for you? What if there is an employer who may be visually oriented? This is not a time to limit one’s options.

BKH: What are the top benefits of having a personal brand?

RC: Most importantly is standing out from the crowd and knowing your strengths and weaknesses.

BKH: Share a couple of real-world examples you have personally seen of good and bad personal branding?

RC: I do not want to publicly humiliate anyone who has applied for a job with me, but cover letters that read “to whom it may concern,” lack any emotion, or look like form letters are forms of bad personal branding. I hit “delete.”

Why should I give my time to someone who has not invested any time in me? Those who show they have done their research on me and my company will receive a response one way or the other with feedback from me.

BKH: Thinking specifically of those in college or recent college graduates, what are the simplest and minimal cost things one can do to get started on personal branding?

RC: First and foremost, take at least one, if not a few. personality or strength tests. Myers Briggs can be done online for free. Tom Rath wrote a great book and created a great strength finders test in the book Strength Finders 2.0. I require all my interns to do this.

Create a killer LinkedIn profile and start connecting. Be an original. Show enthusiasm and eagerness. Hone your writing skills. Jump off the screen or paper with energy, and properly represent your personality. This is a chance for someone to know you before they meet you. If you do a good job, hopefully the interview is simply a deal closer.

Creatively use other social marketing sites to your benefit. Send the proper message through the proper channels. Creativity is the name of the game in 2011 and beyond.

Do an internship with a small business. At big companies you tend to stuff envelopes and are treated like someone in the background. At a small company you may have access to the owner. A successful owner is a marketer his/herself. They may be willing to show you the ropes on personal branding which is the most priceless gift you can get from an internship.

BKH: What are the three things anyone can do to achieve the most effective personal branding to support their job search best?

RC: Create a strong online presence, hone writing skills, and show eagerness to work hard and to learn in the best way possible.

BKH: What are employers looking for most in one's personal branding?

RC: To get to know the job candidate. There are so many people interviewing that the more information one can get in front of the potential employer the better.

Every employer chooses to use a different medium of communication or connecting, so make it a priority to use free services to your benefit. Neatly present them on your resume. The most valuable intangible assets in today’s job market are eagerness and willingness to learn.

Turnover is expensive. Business owners are investing in you. They hope when they hire you, you help their productivity and ultimately their bottom line. So be honest, know yourself, and hone a killer presentation online and in written materials.

BKH: Contact Rebecca Crowley at RTC Publicity to sign up for her student workshop or for her company’s PR services.

In addition, Andrea Nierenberg summarizes, “College students must understand that with all the technology, people are watching 24/7 now. What they post may affect how seriously they are taken by others as they move forward in their professional lives.”

She concludes, “Perception is reality. It takes forever to develop your brand. It may take only one post or photo to destroy it. And on the Internet, everything can remain forever.”

Nierenberg is the author of three bestselling books—all of which have become essential reading for businesses worldwide. Networking for College Students (and Recent Graduates) is essential reading for anyone beginning their careers, and makes a great gift for any college student.

Follow Brenda Krueger Huffman on Twitter and Facebook.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Expert John Garrett: Top 10 Business Apps for the iPad

Guest Contributor – John Garrett, CEO, Facilities Management Advisors LLC

The iPad is widely believed to be one of the greatest innovations in technology we have seen over the course of the past two decades.

Obviously, the concept of a tablet had hit the marketplace well in advance of Apple’s 1st generation iPad, yet failed to gain any traction or otherwise create much interest with the consumer.

On the other hand, Apple’s first-generation iPad and all associated products have, I believe, turned the industry upside down, dramatically affecting the manner in which both businesses and users approach technology and the basic use of either a desktop and/or laptop computer.

Interestingly, it was just a few years ago whereby observing someone in an airport, at a restaurant, or in the board room, utilizing an iPad was somewhat of a novelty. Today, they are as commonly seen as perhaps the corner Wal-Mart or Target!

For many, including myself, the iPad often replaces the need to use a desktop, laptop, or notebook computer. The iPad is very light, compact, travels very well, and it’s overall functionality unparalleled by any standard.

Whether just using it for such things as basic e-mail management, games, or web surfing, or utilizing the device for more technical purposes such as document editing/design, development AND delivery of presentations, working with spreadsheets, etc., the iPad’s usefulness is relatively endless – it can do everything short of making you dinner, however I can only assume that eventually there will be an app for that too!

I utilize my iPad for virtually everything and more specifically have found it an invaluable tool that allows me to more effectively and efficiently manage all or most business tasks. I commonly research top trends, latest developments and innovations, and reviews of the top applications available to the market.

Just as important, a user’s personal experience with a particular application can often be the best possible endorsement. Far too often we find ourselves wasting both time and money on applications that are at best marginally effective, and/or, don’t deliver the basic functions and features advertised.

For this reason, I have noted what I perceive to be the Top 10 Business Applications available on the iPad below – it is my hope that you find this information helpful, and hopefully the applications useful to your business.

iAnnotate PDF: This app is a top-rated and customizable PDF manager with world-class functions for annotating, organizing, reading, and sending PDF files. Pick and choose tool bars, which allow you the freedom to select the tools that you need – insert comments, highlights, recorded audio links, and a variety of other options. You can personally sign any file with either your finger or preferably stylus on-the-fly.

Penultimate: This app is a best-selling and I believe must have handwriting app for the iPad. Eliminate the need for carrying paper notebooks, while supporting sustainability and the environment. Multiple selections for both pen and paper style; very functional interface for taking notes and keeping sketches, etc., whether at home or on-the-go. Notes taken are stored within an easy to manage library; e-mail individual pages or entire notebooks as a PDF file.

iWorks Suite: The platform includes Pages, Keynote, and Numbers, although you must purchase each app separately. Pages is for word processing, Numbers is for charts and graphs, and Keynote is for presentations.

Each integrates and works effectively within standard Office programs including Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Documents can be both created and edited continuously in one program and shared painlessly with the other and vice versa. A must-have for anyone that routinely works within Office while wanting to be able to effortlessly continue to work on projects on the road and/or through the iPad.

iXpenselt: This app is an outstanding expense management and overall budgeting tool for both business and personal use. Simplifies the budgeting process and in fact makes it enjoyable. Easily create detailed expense reports by month, year, Venor, etc., through both a CSV and/or beautiful PDF interface, which includes expense related metrics.

Presentation Link: One of the most frequent frustrations communicated by iPad users who frequently conduct presentations has revolved around the difficulty of utilizing the iPad for this important purpose. It would seem that we have an application that has effectively addressed this challenge.

This application allows one to create and show interactive presentations on the iPad: import existing presentations as a PDF or images, integrate videos, set hyperlinks, re-order slides, and a variety of other unique features. Whether conducting your presentation virtually, or connecting through use of VGA and HDMI output to present via an external screen or projector, I have found this application incredibly useful.

Dropbox: Dropbox is an excellent backup app that automatically syncs files across multiple computers, and offers you remote file access and sharing. It also doubles as a PDF- and document-reader.

Have you ever been in a position either at an airport or just after boarding an airplane whereby you’re suddenly in a position to send a very large file to an existing or potential client? This application will allow you to easily send a down loadable link to your file within seconds. For the “road warrior”, this alone would make this application a must-have.

Air Display: This app provides the user a second monitor which contributes to overall productivity, as you can keep Outlook, Twitter reader, or other potentially distracting work element on a second screen. Air Display turns your iPad into a wireless second LCD monitor for your iMac or MacBook.

This application makes your laptop or notebook more useful in that it extends the size of your screen, allows you to wirelessly drag files back and forth between both devices, and allows you to fill the second screen with such things as utility apps like iChat, Mail, iCal, etc.

Dragon Dictation: This app is easy to use voice recognition application that allows you to instantly speak your text either for transfer into written documents, e-mail messages, text messages, etc. Dragon dictation is considered up to 5 times faster than typing on a keyboard. The application does take getting used to but once you have mastered “the basics” you will see an increase in productivity and overall ease-of-use.

JotNot Fax: This app turns your iPad into a portable fax machine. You can use the application to send PDF files to any US or Canadian fax number from anywhere. customize your cover page, track delivery, and send clear facts is while on the go in a matter of seconds.

AppAdvice: Although not an app specifically designed for business functions, I have personally found this application incredibly useful. Take the guesswork out of downloading either free and/or paid applications – AppAdvice evaluates all known applications by category and function, and recommends only the very best applications based upon effectiveness, functionality, and overall value.

Why waste time researching apps when you can more than cut that time investment in half while ensuring a greater return on investment through the use of this application?

There are quite a few additional applications that could be listed for both business and personal use, however I have found that the aforementioned applications have proven to be of considerable value, enjoyable to use, and allow me to be much more productive in all areas of my business.


John Garrett is a Senior Executive with 18 years Business Development, Operations Management, Customer Relationship Management, Business Strategy & Management Consulting, Sales and Marketing experience within the Facilities Management & Corporate Real Estate Industry.

Garrett has led growth efforts with clients that included some of the most recognized Fortune 500 organizations in the world across multiple market segments. He led operational assessments and growth initiatives that involved in excess of 400 Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF) throughout the Americas.

Garrett's company, Facilities Management Advisors LLC, is a certified Women/Minority Business Enterprise (W/MBE) providing consultative services to both large and small businesses across a variety of market segments. For more information call 888-656-0740 or visit Facilities Management Advisors.

Follow Brenda Krueger Huffman on Twitter and on Facebook.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Why One Small US Manufacturer is Moving Operations to China

Photo Credit - Flickr Common

Most Americans want to buy products made in the U.S., and many large and small manufacturers want to stay in the U.S. to produce their products. Americans certainly want jobs that have been American manufacturing jobs for decades to stay American jobs.

America knows it must better balance a consumer economy with rebuilding and retaining a strong manufacturing base to get back on its economic feet. We all know manufacturing is a job and revenue multiplier in the economy. When we lose manufacturing, large or small, we lose that multiplier.

Health care, the fastest growing industry in the U.S., was under served in the medical apparel segment. Founded in May, 2008, Medelita identified that need and led the creation of a new market within the segment to address it. It was also evident to them the needs not being met in the U.S. were not being met internationally.

Located in Orange County, CA, Medelita designs, manufactures, and sells unique, upscale medical apparel in the medical uniform market place. Their product line includes: men and women’s lab coats, dental lab coats, clinician scrubs, men's scrubs, nursing scrubs, scrub hats, Sanita clogs, and Amodex Ink & Stain Remover.

In less than three years, the company has earned the patronage of customers in every sector of health care, from medical directors and professors at the nation’s most prestigious hospitals and medical schools, to office based physicians, dentists, and veterinarians. By complimenting its superior product line with embroidery and customer service, it has created brand equity in its space.

Medelita is a wonderful small business growth story despite launching during the Great Recession. They have created American jobs in the last two and half years.

They must now move their manufacturing to China to improve product quality and to continue growing their business. Joe Francisco, Medelita’s President and Chief Marketing Officer, explains why.

BKH: What was your inspiration for the company and your products?

JF: Our founder, a Certified Physician Assistant of ten years, Lara Manchik-Francisco, was frustrated by the lack of quality and innovation in the scrubs and lab coats she had worn throughout her professional career.

The industry was lacking a brand focused on comfort, fit, quality, and a professional appearance.

We saw an opportunity to introduce certified advanced fabric technologies, such as fluid and stain resistant treatments and moisture wicking bacteriostatic fabrics, which previously had not been introduced.

BKH: What gave you the confidence to start a company during the Great Recession?

JF: Honestly, naiveté. And, we had already committed resources to fabric and website design. We were all in from day one and unwavering in our drive to see this concept to success.

BKH: Did you find it easy to start the company?

JF: Going from zero sales and zero brand awareness to seven figure sales during a recession is difficult. One must be committed to the brand proposition and distribution channel. One cannot make emotional decisions based on short term issues.

We stayed focused on where the business needed to be 1, 3, 5 years from that first day and what we were doing every day to get to those goals. There were steep learning curves, and there continues to be daily learning experiences and challenges.

BKH: What has been the growth of your company since 2008?

JF: We are proud to say that since we launched, we have grown from our two founders in 2008 to sixteen full-time employees and one part-time employee during this difficult time. We project we will be adding up to ten more people to support our growth in the next eighteen months.

BKH: To what do you attribute your success?

JF: We have a commitment to unparalleled quality in our products. We have stayed committed to our branding and marketing goals.

We live by the golden rule of customer service, treating our customers the way we want to be treated. It’s simple - answer emails and return phone calls in an hour and “always” follow through on promises.

BKH: What are your needs now to expand to meet demand?

JF: We need to continue to grow our product assortment and capitalize on the brand equity Medelita has earned over the last few years. To do so we need capital to support the growth. Financing is difficult without a significant history of profitability, and we are experiencing the strain this puts on growing a small business daily.

BKH: Why are you now moving your manufacturing outside of the U.S. to China?

JF: The quality is significantly better for woven goods in China and other Asian countries. Our overseas suppliers are all vertical and can easily continue to scale our production to meet our demand.

Quality and scalability were not available to us in the U.S. at a competitive price. It came to a point where we had to make the decision – either go out of business or move production overseas and continue on a strong growth trend.

BKH: What is America not offering that China is offering that would keep your manufacturing here?

JF: Again, high-quality woven goods are difficult to find in the U.S. We could not find vertical suppliers who could match the quality, performance fabric capabilities, production scale and competitive pricing that we find globally.

BKH: What are the pros and cons of keeping your manufacturing in America?

JF: The pros of manufacturing in America are a quick turn of goods which means a more manageable cash flow and the ability to personally oversee production without significant travel.

The cons are a lack of vertical supply chains and an inability for small producers of quality woven goods to scale due to lack of skilled labor needed to sew such intricate garments, and an unfavorable climate in the U.S. right now for small business.

BKH: What are the pros and cons of moving your manufacturing to China?

JF: The pros of moving to China and globally are significant. The suppliers we are working with globally understand the business climate in the U.S. and the opportunity. They are willing and able to help with inventory financing. These partners provide an exquisite quality and craftsmanship for our products. They provide scalability and the ability to control every aspect of the production from the raw materials to finished goods.

The cons are longer lead times, higher order quantities, and some countries have an unstable political climate which makes doing business more complex.

BKH: What has been most imperative in making the relocation decision for your company?

JF: The biggest impact is improving our quality and having very consistent delivery of our products allowing us to meet customer demand. While manufacturing in the U.S., there were constant delays causing back orders and disappointed customers. We have virtually eliminated back orders with our new partnerships.

BKH: What do you wish local California politicians understood about manufacturing job creation in the U.S.?

JF: It takes a substantial long-term fiscal commitment. State and federal governments should offer competitive grants to self-organized groups of manufacturers. These grants would help manufacturers solve problems they have in common, but which they cannot solve individually because of market failures.

Groups could be organized within an industry. There are many of us who would like to manufacture in the U.S. but simply cannot.

BKH: What do you wish the President and Congress understood about manufacturing job creation in the U.S.?

JF: Small business is the engine for growth in this county, and they are still being ignored as Washington talks about job creation. The Small Business Administration loan programs are not working for the average start-up.

Every single job is difficult to create for small business. It’s not like adding someone to a Fortune 500 company.

BKH: What major changes need to occur in America to build and stabilize U.S. manufacturing and have jobs remain in America?

JF: There needs to be a genuine effort to support new, young growing companies from a position of understanding business start-ups and entrepreneurs. There needs to be grants and favorable loans for working capital.

There needs to be an understanding and realism that the traditional manufacturing jobs may not come back to the U.S. now, but new jobs can and will be created by supporting growing companies.

BKH: Once you have made the investment to move your manufacturing operations outside of the U.S., will it ever make sense for you to bring it back to the U.S. in the future?

JF: We would be extremely proud to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. I am not sure it is possible due to the competitive landscape and how much ground we have already lost in the U.S.

We are not optimistic that it would be possible to bring it back, even though we would have liked to have stayed in the U.S. in the first place.

BKH: Thank you for your candor. You can follow Medelita on Twitter and Facebook.

Manufacturing has been leaving the U.S. for more than a decade and continues to leave. Large and small operations are leaving mainly due to the rising cost of taxes and regulations as well as a vital missing link – qualified American labor.

The majority of these companies do not want to offshore operations as a first choice, yet they cannot stay in the U.S. and remain competitive in a global manufacturing environment. Many would point to trade agreements that were not negotiated well on behalf of the American people as the starting point of this decline.

Washington has spent a lot of time talking about job creation the last few months gearing up for the 2012 election. The truth is there have been poor job creation results to show even after spending $878 Billion in stimulus.

Spending hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars per job in a stated goal plan to create or save jobs, non-permanent and permanent, is an utter failure in any reality but a political one apparently. It is time to be honest.

Would a private sector company create a success story this way? Would they even be in business a year later with no accountability on spending and burn rate of capital?

Would politicians hand over money like this if it was coming out of their own personal pockets? Would they allow enormous wasteful spending and no accountability if the money was coming out of their own personal business venture, family business, or salary?

It is vital to remember, government does not create jobs in the private sector, but it does create legislation and an environment that promotes jobs or kills jobs.

We are starting in a reality where the President’s Economic Council on Jobs and Competitiveness is headed by the Chief Executive Officer of General Electric Company Jeffrey Immelt - a company taking a lot of its manufacturing, jobs, and intellectual property paid for by American taxpayers to China in addition to having paid no federal income taxes on billions in profit.

China will make $350 Billion from America this year. Columbia will make $4 Billion. President Obama championed investing in Brazilian oil exploration, telling them America wanted to be their best customer, while refusing oil exploration to American oil companies.

None of this is acceptable, and we must get serious as a nation. Free trade has not been fair trade or good necessarily for American workers and jobs as it turns out. We must be honest with ourselves.

Just as important for any business, large or small, politicians must acknowledge there is a need for business to be able to plan out 3-5 years with reasonable projections.

Tax policy based on political gamesmanship and extreme levels of cost increasing regulations, that seem to change every six months to a year based on reelection politics, do not allow business to soundly plan for growth and investment back into their company.

This is the “uncertainty effect” that is keeping investment capital money on the sidelines that Washington does not seem to comprehend. Washington must also comprehend they can not demonize private sector business and then demand they create jobs under these conditions.

If the U.S. would do the following, there might not be a need for companies like Medelita to have to move manufacturing and jobs to China to expand operations in the future:

  • Stop political demonizing of the private sector and business owners.
  • Respect that it is the private sector that creates wealth, not the public sector or government.
  • Stop the privatization of success and the socialization of failure in our capitalistic system.
  • Recognize no business is too big to fail. Comprehend when a business fails, another with a better business model, or with a better product, or with better business practices will replace it.
  • Comprehend the multiplier effect of a strong manufacturing base on positive economic growth.
  • Respect that the public sector is paid for by money earned in the private sector.
  • Respect the taxpayers’ hard earned money in every government expenditure. Treat all spending like the money is coming from your own personal checkbook instead of looking at taxes collected as an unlimited, grows on trees, open checkbook.
  • Eliminate the business climate uncertainty by understanding business plans out 3-5 years.
  • Make small business loans more accessible.
  • Promote investment in American industries over the same industry in foreign countries.
  • Promote job training in the direct manufacturing skills now needed.
  • Promote globally competitive tax rates instead of class warfare.
  • Review and eliminate industry and job killing regulations.
  • Negotiate fair Free Trade Agreements and have real private sector business professionals negotiate on behalf of America not politicians or diplomats.
  • Eliminate anyone from a company that is outsourcing jobs on the President’s Economic Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Include more successful small business and manufacturers on the council.
  • Recognize Congress is the U.S. legislative body not unelected agency directors or Czars.
  • Respect the three branches of federal government as equal and a needed check and balance.
  • Read every bill and comprehend the law of unintended consequences to formulate a yes or no vote.
  • Put common sense and meaningful action in political intent and then walk the talk.
  • Stop the constant political gamesmanship, spin, and crony capitalism.
  • Care more about the livelihoods of the American people than political careers and reelection.
  • Be our own best friend instead of our own worst enemy.
We have a lot of problems in this area. Yet, if we can put a man on the moon and create the Internet, would you agree we can rebuild the manufacturing base in America as a nation?

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